Friday, December 19, 2008

Most Popular Tech Therapy Episodes of 2008

Continuing in the grand tradition of "best of 2008" lists, the Chronicle has posted a list of the most popular Tech Therapy episodes of 2008. These are well worth a listen over what I hope is a long and relaxing holiday break for you. I mentioned two of the podcasts previously: Libraries vs. IT and The Future of the College Library, among the most popular episodes this year.

New Blog Design

Probably 99% of you never look at my blog directly but read my posts through your RSS aggregator of choice. I don't blame you--I do the same, and certainly my little Blogger blog design isn't worth writing home about. After what shall be known as the my blog fiasco of 2008, I decided to tinker with Blogger templates a bit and just put together this new look. Go ahead, look now. I'll wait. Seriously, if you have any comments I'd appreciate them (other than the obvious "get with the program and design your own template"). Maybe one of these days...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Learning Commons in a High School Library

Since I began preparing for a talk I gave at the SLA annual conference, I have been collecting examples of commons spaces, particularly looking for those outside of academic libraries. I was excited to see this post on Michael Stephens' blog sharing an article about a new commons in a high school library.

The Chelmsford (MA) High School Library has been transformed into a comfortable, attractive space where students "discussions are spirited." And thankfully the new commons space is nothing like the "gross" library of before:
In the place formerly known as the library, students perch on long-legged chairs and huddle in purple and black booths. Once a week, they drink coffee and discuss books in the Java Room. They watch a history lesson, school news, and CNN on a 58-inch flat-panel "digital kiosk."
Read the entire article.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services

I haven't seen the new ARL Spec Kit on Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services yet, but I am really looking forward to it as we begin thinking about a research commons here focused on faculty and graduate student needs. It looks like the full kit includes a number of documents describing specific services and spaces, as well as marketing and outreach materials. This is definitely a must-read for me.

View the exective summary.

I'm aware that it is a growing trend for university libraries that started with a heavily-trafficked information/ learning commons focused on undergraduate needs to build on that success by looking at a similar collaborative project for graduate student and faculty needs. Last year as we began our research, I compiled a list of institutions with a "research commons" or a "scholarly commons" and I expect that number has increased. I'd be interested in hearing from others who are involved in similar projects.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Top 10 Everything of 2008

It's that time of year again, with Top 10 lists sprouting up at every turn. To fill your Top 10 list cravings, Time Magazine has collected the Top 10 Everything of 2008. From campaign moments and financial collapses to scandals and fashion faux pas, this list has you covered.

Why should we care in the information commons? Well you have to have a little fun sometimes. And it is interesting to look at consumer technology trends: iPhone apps, gadgets, and video games, for example.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Pew Report on Future of the Internet

The third in a series of Pew reports on the future of the Internet was just released yesterday. For this report, over 1000 technology leaders/commentators were surveyed regarding the impact networked technologies will have on society by 2010. Key findings from the report:
The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.

The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.

Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.

Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.

The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.

Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.
As librarians/information professionals, it is so important for us be familiar with trends and predictions for the future of information access. Even for our own personal needs, how will networked technologies change our own relationships--with families, with work, with future co-workers and students?

View the project page which outlines the methodology and key findings or read the entire report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Improving Laptop Support in the Commons

I enjoyed reading this post from Brian Mathews about what we might offer students to enhance library laptop use. When we think of support, most of us typically think in terms of desktop support/customer service/help desk: "I can't get on the wireless network!" or "My laptop won't power on!" While that is important (we too offer that kind of support in the Hub), he moves beyond that by asking students what else they need, such as:
  • Specific kinds of furniture, like ottomans, desk chairs, etc.
  • Extension cords
  • Flash drives
  • Wireless keyboards and mice
  • Docking stations
  • And so on...
He includes many other things on the list, some of which had never occurred to me but are terrific ideas. I like their idea of packaging some of these items together and offering a sort of "laptop kit" for checkout.

We offer laptops for checkout at the Hub but haven't moved much beyond that yet. Our labs offer headphones and a "power bar" of sorts (various power adapters available for checkout). I've mentioned previously that I'd like to see us offer more. We certainly get the requests from students, though I suspect it's unlikely we'll expand our offerings in the current budget climate. Still, it's vital to keep asking the questions and have some ideas and proposals ready should a funding opportunity arise.

Photos courtesy UK IT

2009 Horizon Report

The Horizon Report, a project co-published by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, is one of those must-read reports that I look forward to each year (view past reports). The report focuses on emerging technologies for teaching and learning and identifies a timeline for mainstream adoption. The report includes specific examples and challenges, as well as key trends. The 2009 report should be released in late January 2009. I've just seen a short preview of the 2009 report and there are no big surprises here:
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
Cloud Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
The Personal Web

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
Semantic-Aware Applications
Smart Objects
I'm really looking forward to reading and discussing the full report.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Building on the Library/IT Relationship

The latest "Dear Ulla" column from the SLA Leadership and Management Division focuses on fostering a successful relationship between the IT department and the library. While this is special library focused, Ulla's suggestions could easily be applied to any library type. What particularly caught my attention was her third suggestion, which is basically to frame all requests as patron/customer requests which meet a specific goal, not simply as something that is wanted by the library:
Job 3 is to cast any request for support into an enterprise business case: The knowledge workers are asking for X and we have done Y but now need the support of IT to accomplish Z. Under no circumstances should a request for support be interpretable as a "request from the library". Under all circumstances should such a request be presented (for example) as "employees are in need of ... so they can perform their jobs to meet [organizational goals]; while the required content is indeed available, IT support is required to now present it to the desktop".
This is an excellent way to help us get away from the us vs. them mentality ("oh, what does the library want now?" or "gosh, why do they never do what we need them to do?"). This kind of thinking encourages us to work together to meet a common goal which is becoming even more important as budgets shrink and staff positions are cut. As she concludes:
The bottom line is ... make the case with a view to organizational gain. It's not about what the library wants (do discard any library lingo). It's about what the organization needs in order to succeed.
I encourage you to read the entire post.

SLA Centennial Video Contest

While the majority of my posts are commons-focused, I do post from time to time about my primary professional organization, SLA. This is a particularly exciting time as SLA will be celebrating its centennial celebration in 2009. I've been fortunate to serve on SLA's Centennial Commission and may share announcements about some of our activities in the coming year, particularly those with a technology focus.

One of the activities we recently launched is the SLA Video Contest. This is a great opportunity for SLA members (including student members) to submit a video focused on "the information professional of the future." What a great excuse to experiment with video, have a little fun, and maybe win a very nice cash prize. The winning entry in each category (Student and Professional) will be awarded:
* $1,500 cash
* Up to $1,500 to attend the Centennial conference in Washington, DC, 14-17 June 2009
* Up to $1,000 for Chapter programming
* Up to $1,000 for Division programming
If you are a member of SLA, you really should consider submitting a video to this contest. The deadline for entries is January 23, 2009. Visit the SLA Centennial website for complete rules and entry information.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Second Life Video Windows Exhibit

The Hub's newest video windows exhibit is up and running through January 2009. "Educational Uses of Second Life" includes a tour of the University of Kentucky island, a video displaying a recent exhibit focused on the island, as well as videos focused on other activities and educational uses of the space.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world which is primarily focused on social interaction, including education. The University of Kentucky has been actively involved in Second Life for nearly a year. This exhibit includes video from some of the year's activities. For more information on UK's participation Second Life, check out our island blog.

The next exhibit in the Hub (February 2009) will be "Views of Diversity."

Best.Erasers.Ever, Part II

Long-time followers of this blog may remember when I proclaimed I had found the best whiteboard eraser ever. I realize this may seem trivial, but for those of us surrounded by whiteboards in a busy commons environment, the perfect eraser is so very important.

Last week I learned that the aforementioned "best eraser ever" was no longer available from our office supplier. This news was mildly devastating, as we are now entering dead week, easily our busiest time of year. Thankfully we called around and found another magnetic whiteboard eraser.

While the new erasers have only seen a weekend's worth of use (and a very busy weekend at that), I think they could easily deserve the title "best eraser ever." My criteria are pretty simple--magnetic, lots of fuzzy stuff, nice ergonomic design. What really sets these erasers apart though is that they have the ability to store two markers. This is fabulous for something like our student message board, where magnetic markers are essential.

Sparco Magnetic Jumbo Eraser, 97250